One might think that speaking in front of 200 people at my TEDx talk would be daunting. In reality, that wasn’t such a large group. My very first public speaking engagement was at a conference of over 800 people in a healthcare organization. I moved through size matters 20+ years ago.

The idea that this talk could be seen by millions of viewers worldwide was daunting. Because the subject matter, while significant, is but a small window into the science and wisdom I work with as a consultant and a speaker. I didn’t want to be defined by the TEDx content and get pigeon-holed.

But more than daunting, what actually freaked me out? Turns out I am afraid of the dark. So to speak.

I feed off the engagement of an audience! I’m accustomed to the energy exchange with an audience when I’m giving a corporate keynote or workshop. I engage with them, I’m able to walk the full stage, make eye contact, be interactive. My perimeter was confined to a red circle on stage but that wasn’t the biggest challenge. It was being in the dark. Not being able to read the faces, acknowledge, and engage with my audience.

I had never experienced speaking in a completely dark room. Thank goodness we had a rehearsal the day before. Not much was working with the technology during rehearsal but I could navigate around that. The part that was SO different from anything I’ve ever done was to be in a pitch black room with a bright white light (think interrogation room in an old spy film) shining into my eyes. It was unnerving.

As with any fear, we have a choice to conquer it or let it conquer us, right? So I went back to my room that night after rehearsal, shut off all the lights and propped my cell phone up with the flashlight shining in my eyes.

I re-created the experience so it would feel some version of ‘normal’ the next day. And I rehearsed.

When I arrived to do my talk, I noticed the room had gone from pitch black the day prior to a dark grey. I could see maybe the first two rows of the audience. I had to laugh. As is usually the case, my anticipation around fear is usually far more frightening than the reality of a situation. Maybe that’s true for you as well?

I had prepared for the worst and then didn’t have the experience anticipated. How many times has that happened? I am reminded of something I heard long ago: “Courage is fear holding on a minute longer”.  

So, let me offer this to you: Don’t give up, persevere, hold on one second longer, and you will find your courage to move through it! Whatever ‘it’ may be!

#Courage #PurposePassionandProfit #PublicSpeaking #TEDxTalk


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